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How to earn bonus points or miles supporting pandemic relief efforts

Dec. 09, 2020
6 min read
Volunteers passing cardboard boxes from delivery van
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In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, we saw some of the best humanity has to offer: people hand-sewing masks for medical personnel to first responders jumping on planes to combat the virus in New York.

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There are ways to get involved too and earn points and miles while supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. If you've been wondering how to get involved without getting in the way, we've put together some options — and we'll continually update this post as new ones are brought to light.

Order from restaurants online

With many people out of work and schools closed due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, New York restaurant Regina's Grocery is making sandwiches for children at Streetwork Project on New York's Lower East Side. For a donation of $30 via GrubHub, Regina's will make 25 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches per order.

Because GrubHub codes as dining, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 3x per dollar spent, while those with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earn 2x points. If you have the American Express® Gold Card, it earns 4x at restaurants. Even better — you don't need to live in New York to donate. You can contribute anywhere.

READ MORE: Best credit cards for dining out — and ordering in

You can also contact local charities or first responders to see if they'd take any prepared meals ordered online. Some restaurants are even waiving delivery fees, so you could have food send straight to your desired recipient and collect bonus points or miles in the process — especially if they happen to participate in a dining rewards program.

Purchase groceries to donate to food banks

Image by Parinda Yatha / EyeEm / Getty Images.
Local food banks could need various grocery items. (Photo by Parinda Yatha / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Local food banks also play a crucial support role in the coronavirus response. If you can pick up non-perishable items at the grocery store, this could be a great way to support those less fortunate in your community. Many credit cards offer bonus points or miles at supermarkets, including 4x points on the Amex Gold (on up to $25,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets each calendar year, then 1x). Terms apply.

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Several credit cards have launched limited-time bonuses at grocery stores as a result of the pandemic.

For instance, The Platinum Card® from American Express currently has a the following welcome offer: You'll get 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership..

The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited also offer temporary bonus categories as part of the sign-up bonus. You’ll earn $200 in cashback on either card after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, plus get 5% back on the first $12,000 spent at grocery stores in the first 12 months (excluding Walmart and Target).

Finally, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a temporary 3x bonus on groceries (up to $1,000 per month through April 30, 2021). Also, gas and grocery spending will qualify for the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit through June 30, 2021.

Use your travel credit towards groceries

Through June 30, 2021, gas and grocery spending will qualify for the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit. Of course, this only pertains to you if you haven’t used some or all of the credit yet (or don’t plan on using it in 2021), but it is automatically applied for any future grocery or gas purchases.

Related: This fan-favorite travel card is now one of the best to use for groceries

Order key supplies online

I've also been poking around in various online shopping portals for elevated bonuses for medical supplies to donate to first responders.

Medical professionals around the U.S. have reported shortages of essential products like hand sanitizer and masks and have asked for donations. If you can find these items online, they'd go a long way toward flattening the curve — and earning additional points or miles on the purchases would be the icing on the cake.

READ MORE: Best credit cards for online shopping

Donate Marriott points

While this won't earn points, it's still a great way to donate and get involved.

Marriott has partnered with disaster relief organizations UNICEF, World Central Kitchen International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Red Cross. Donations between $10 (2,500 Marriott Bonvoy points) and $500 (125,000 Bonvoy points) will help provide supplies, meals and more. You can pick which organization to donate to or choose all of them.

Donate Amex points

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

This also won't earn points, but you can donate your American Express Membership Rewards points to JustGiving for various causes, including pandemic relief.

All you have to do is pick your preferred cause, enter the donation amount you'd like the charity to receive and you'll be able to apply Amex points to the donation. You can use points for all or part of the donation amount.

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Bottom line

If you're looking for ways to get involved that don't require leaving your home — and earn some points in the process — donating your points could be good a good place to start, especially if you don't have travel redemptions planned anytime soon.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.